The morning (afternoon) after…
As I sit here in utter awe of the events that I witnessed last night, I wonder…how does one go back to regular life after this?! Thats the funny thing about those epic nights; you wake up on the ultimate high replaying the events of the night in your head over and over again, trying to get that feeling back. Your mind stumbles upon little things you may had temporarily forgotten about and laugh…ahh, what a beautiful night. *Smiles*. Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought I would have been able to be a apart of something like this on the DJ level, and I’m so happy and grateful that I’m doing something that I love. I know I say that a lot, but its true. When I think about it, I’m living my dreams, and its an indescribable feeling.
Coming into this I actually didn’t know that I was going to be apart of the event. As I’m riding in the car with Stefan one day telling him how excited I am too see Derrick May, he casually tells me we’re playing the party too, and I’m like…”WHAT”!?!? It honestly took me a couple minutes to believe him, and I still don’t know how the hell I was last person to find out about this. I was in shock…Before I started playing out I had the feeling that once I did things would pop off quite well, but I didn’t expect to get the ball rolling so fast, so soon. Its crazy to think that last night I was hanging out in the DJ booth with Reggie Dokes and Derrick May, taking selfies with DJ Minx…like wow. I mean, I’ve hung around plenty of DJ’s before, but it feels even cooler now because I too, am a DJ. In training in many aspects of course, but it really is special to be respected by artists that I look up to…Artists who are black like me, artist who come from Detroit like me. It makes me proud, and is a reminder that I come from a special place that brings something powerful and authentic to the world.
I enjoyed playing with Stefan and Duncan, yet must admit that my main focus of the night was seeing Derrick perform. If you can’t already tell, he’s one of the few DJ’s that I can truly say is one of my idols. As I’m catching some of Kai’s set, he hands me his phone and tells me to help Derrick, and I’m like…umm, OK! From that point on I pretty much took on the role of “liaison”, if you will. Apparently Derrick was on his way in the uber and I was going to greet and escort him through the club. When I tell you I was excited, honey I was excited…I’ve always wanted to do this kind of work anyway, so I was living! I’m texting him from Kai’s phone telling him I’m Kai’s assistant and that I’m gonna be waiting on the street when he pulls up. Not sure where the assistant title came from, but it felt fitting in the moment. (lol) When his uber pulled up I greeted him with with the biggest, most overzealous smile in life, but I think he liked it. He’s like “you Ashleigh?, and I’m like”yup”!!!! He had like 3 bags with him and I’m like wait, did you just come from the airport, and he’s like no…then I realized that it was all music that he had in tow. I grab the smaller of the bags, and begin to escort him through the massive crowd. Although I’m “little”, I’ve always had a knack for getting through crowds, and this time was no different. We got through seamlessly, and he’s like “wow, your amazing”. I’m thinking like, NO YOUR AMAZING (lol.) I ask him his drink of choice and he humbly says water…okay cool, my next mission: find Derrick May the best fucking water the sound table offers, which ended up being a still water in plastic cup….fail. HAHA. This is all quite humorous looking back, but in that moment I was pretty determined. I really value the importance of making an artist feel comfortable and taken care of. You want everything to be right, so in return they can perform to the best of their ability.
At the end of of the night I thanked him for his contributions, and told him a little more about myself. We took a pic, he signed my record, and of course, I gave him some Underground and Black stickers. I hope I don’t come off as some over excited fan, but it was super cool to kick it with someone that I’ve always looked up to and admired. Its also so cool to have something that you care about (Underground and Black), and it feels good to represent your mission; your cause. Underground and Black is my mission and my cause that may have a ways to go, but without question is my dream, and I’m glad to be working towards it. I’m also glad to be living in Atlanta at time where we’re truly making our mark on the dance music scene, and I pride myself on being an active member of the movement.
All in all, it was a beautiful night, and everyone from every scene seemed to be in attendance. The Sound Table stayed open an extra hour too, which was fitting…it simply would have been disrespectful to have Derrick perform for less than 2 hours. I even had random people walking up to me telling me how much they enjoyed my set, which I still sometimes get caught off guard by, but nonetheless, the reassurance feels good because I truly am giving my all. As I walked back to my car barefoot and alone I couldn’t contain the happiness I felt within. It was a memorable night, and an experience that I will never forget. I know not everyone can understand how a dark room with red lights and loud repetitive music could be so appealing, but yes, its true, this is when I’m home. This is one of the few environments that I feel absolutely comfortable in, and one of few environments where I feel like I can truly express myself. To now experience these nights as a fan, and now as a DJ, is very rewarding. My main goals throughout all of this will always be to preserve the roots of this music, and to be honest, I feel like I am.
The year is coming to a close and it would be impossible for me to recant all that I’ve accomplished this year without feeling incredibly boastful, but let me say just say that I am happy. Let me also say that its never to late to follow your dream. I know that may sound cliche, but its true. I spent the majority of my 20’s trying to figure it all out, and things are finally coming together. I found something that I love to do, and I’m DOING IT. Its scary at times, and sometimes I feel like I’m in over my head, but I’m up for the challenge, and refuse to let fear, or anyone/thing get in my way. I have some serious power moves happening in 2018, and the fact that the city of Atlanta just elected a black woman for Mayor has me even more inspired. To be a woman of color doing things they said we couldn’t do, or didn’t think we could do feels damn good. We are capable, deserving, driven, and much more powerful than we realize. I’m taking this power and strength and I’m running with it…there is no more holding us back!!!
To all my black women breaking barriers; I see you, and I salute you.
**Here are the rest of my December gigs if you want to check me out sometime! Also, my bi-monthly event Expressions returns January 6th, 2018 at The Sound Table…please support this amazing night!!!***
December 8, 2007- FM Elle Art Basel Showcase // Miami, Florida @ SQL
December 15, 2017- Teknox // Knoxville, Tennessee @ The Birdhouse
December 16, 2017- Excursions // Atlanta, GA @ 258 Auburn Ave
December 22, 2017- Morph // Atlanta, GA @ Wildpitch